Nova Scotia

Baby girl who died was abused, Crown says

Medical evidence definitively shows that a seven-week-old girl who died in July 2009 suffered brain injuries and broken bones from an adult who abused her, a Crown attorney argued Tuesday.

Ashiqur Rahman on trial for manslaughter in daughter's death

Medical evidence definitively shows that a seven-week-old girl who died in July 2009 suffered brain injuries and broken bones from an adult who abused her, a Crown attorney argued Tuesday.

Mark Heerema delivered closing submissions at the Nova Scotia Supreme Court trial of Ashiqur Rahman, who has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and aggravated assault in the death of his daughter Aurora Breakthrough.

The girl's mother, Jane Gomes, has testified that Rahman shook and slapped the baby — allegations the 26-year-old Halifax man has denied.

Heerema said medical testimony made clear that some of the baby's injuries and her death could only be caused by an adult abusing the child.

He told the judge that Aurora had 30 injured ribs, only three of which could have been injured through the administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

"Aurora was in many ways shattered on the inside," he said.

The defence has argued that the rib injuries could have been caused by a parent accidentally rolling over the infant while sleeping with the child.

But Heerema said experts agreed that injuries at the back of the rib cage could only have been caused by a person holding and squeezing the baby forcefully.

Heerema said Aurora had no signs of illness when she was born, but when she arrived at a Halifax hospital on July 23, 2009 less than two months later, intensive care doctors immediately suspected abuse.

Tests found broken bones and joints that were severely twisted, and doctors believed she also had severe brain trauma, Heerema said.

Pathologists later found two instances where Aurora's brain was traumatized by some form of shaking or impact, he added.

Rahman sat quietly during the Crown's closing arguments. Gomes was also in the courtroom, sitting with a group of supporters.

During one break, Gomes quietly wept as a woman wrapped an arm around her shoulders.

Gomes pleaded guilty last year to a charge of failing to provide the necessities of life and received a conditional discharge with six months of probation. She agreed to testify at Rahman's trial as part of an agreement with the Crown.

At one point, Judge Felix Cacchione asked Heerema why pathologists didn't find other signs of violent shaking, such as hyper-extension of Aurora's neck.

Heerema said the evidence shows some form of trauma, but it's impossible to exactly define how it came about.

Still, he said the trauma Aurora suffered was excessive.

"All of this exceeds normal handling," Heerema said. "All of this you would not expect to find with normal baby care."

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